It has been five years since ALSHOP.com set up their virtual shop on the Internet. Back then, online transactions from the MENA region were scarce as infrastructure and logistics were lacking to support digital purchases. A lot has changed in these five years explains the CEO of ALSHOP.com, Mr. Sheriff Rizwan, who chatted with us about the transformation of this space.
How has the ecommerce landscape changed over the last few years?
Dramatically! Customers are much more comfortable shopping online now. The tremendous spike in competition has led to customer confidence towards the online space. Based on this ALSHOP.com has expanded both categorically and demographically. In 2012 we clocked in US$8.5million and are witnessing a 30-35% year on year growth.
How do you compete against power retailers like Carrefour?
Our advantage has always been to provide better prices compared to brick n mortar retail stores. This has been possible due to our lesser overheads. We don’t need to look for a strategic location as we are easily accessible online. Online space has just made it easier for consumers to compare products/prices easily instead of hopping from one store to another or worse from one mall to the other to get the best deal.
What kind of products do you see move best when it comes to online shopping?
It’s all about push and pull. Certain product categories create a pull effect, and once we have attained the customer we push other categories at them that are relevant and appealing. This enables us to create more awareness about our emerging categories and products.
Mobiles and tablets are our top selling category with nearly 45% of our business coming from those. Second to this is Electronics and Home Appliances which contributes to 25% of our sales and the balance 30% comes from emerging categories such as makeup, perfumes, sunglasses, watches, shoes, toys and grooming devices. It’s worth mentioning that the emerging category has been growing strongly.
Are most of your sales local?
Yes- 65% of our business comes from UAE customers. The balance has been rapidly growing from the beginning of this year as we have started catering to international shipments, covering areas which we had never ventured into. We have recently started delivering to the MENA region like Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and expanded further to cater some international territories like Seychelles, India, Sri Lanka. We recently shipped out items to Singapore and Malaysia as well.
How do you deal with frauds?
We have a dedicated fraud management team and have been extremely cautious on how we filter our online orders. We have laid down some stringent policies that has helped us achieve nearly zero fraudulent transactions. Local banks and schemes are also contributing in this area with the introduction of 3D secure payments and launching prepaid web cards with smaller limits in order to safe guard the interests of the consumers.
Could you share some industry trends with us?
We are slowly shifting from ecommerce to mcommerce, as internet on phones becomes more popular. This has compelled many ecommerce businesses to now concentrate on mobile and tablet friendly websites. Another very important trend is that online payment has surpassed payment on delivery methods by a huge extent. Last but not the least, online shopping in general has increased within the MENA region as logistical facilities improve.
We want to thank Mr. Sheriff Rizwan for his time and wish him the best of success . To celebrate their five years, ALSHOP.com have given us a CYW TARTAN Fashion Over-Ear Headphone for giveaway.